Ingrown nails are caused when the nail is incurvated (turned in) and penetrates the skin. Ingrown nails that are minor or in the early stages are slightly painful and inflamed. If left untreated these can result worsen, creating red, swollen nail borders causing infections. Repeated infections and continued nail border pain is a sure sign of chronic irreversible ingrown nail. Once this cycle has started it is difficult to reverse.
Typically, first aid (temporary procedure) involves removing a wedge of nail from the nail border (under local anaesethic) to clear up infection. After the nail has healed from the temporary procedure and infection is no longer present, a permanent procedure can be performed. This involves removing a 1-2mm section from the side of the nail to the growth region itself and applying a chemical that destroys the nail cells to prevent regrowth.
Permanent correction of ingrown nails
As an office procedure a local anaesthetic is utilised to numb the toe. Next, a 1-2mm section is removed from the side of the nail to the growth region itself. Next, a chemical is applied in the area where the section of nail was removed.
Generally, the nail region will drain for some 4 weeks. During that time the patient is asked by the podiatrists to dress the region with a simple sterile gauze and apply a gel that acts as a debriding agent. Shoes may be worn the next day and the individual may participate in sports.
Real complications such as infection are rare and success rates are at a 98% level.
Bone infections in ingrown nail care
Chronic nail infections can and often lead to more serious bone infection. Eventually the infection spreads to deeper tissues if the skin/nail has been left badly treated. Oddly, one of the most common causes for this are antibiotics themselves.
For the ingrown nail antibiotics alone do nothing. A chronic inflammatory condition can result from the rubbing of the nail against the skin (granulation tissue). Even worse is the situation in which an antibiotic may only treat the skin aspect of the infection. In osteomylitis the infection lives within the bone itself. This potential outcome may only be noticed when pain and swelling continues much later.
Good and timely nail care should be utilised rather than this bandaid (antibiotic) approach should not replace good timely nail care.
Advances in ingrown nail care
Recent advances in diabetic wound care has proven of great value in the surgical treatment of ingrown nails. A specialised hydrogel product (supplied to each patient after a procedure) is available as a non-prescription product and should be applied over the post-operative nail on a daily basis. A single, folded sterile gauze is placed over the gel and is maintained with a piece of paper tape.
Basically, the gel produces a moist wound environment. The product reduces inflammation and normally occurring post-operative redness by promoting more rapid healing and acting as a natural debriding agent. This essentially allows patients the opportunity to wear their normal shoes with little or no discomfort. The patient may continue a daily exercise program. Final healing usually occurs in four weeks.
Master Health Science Podiatry Dip. App. Science Podiatry (QUT) Dip. Diagnostic Radiography (Warsaw) Gained her first degree in medical Radiography and proceeded to work in the Department of Internal Affairs Military Hospital based in Poland. She received an Early Childhood … Continue reading